For 31 years I have worn a mask.
A mask that reads “I’m fine, my past doesn’t bother me.”
Because I have always tried to be strong, and I believed that burying my pain was the strong thing to do.
And that sharing and working through emotional pain was a sign of weakness.
Well this kind of thinking wasn’t working out for me.
Because even though I was putting on a strong “I’m fine” front, I was not fine inside.
And I knew I had to make a change.
First step, was to take off the mask.
This wasn’t easy for me.
I loved hiding behind my mask.
It allowed me to hide my pain and my vulnerabilities.
For years I believed the mask was keeping me safe.
Safe from actually feeling the pain of being sexually abused.
Safe from being judged by others, or called a liar.
I was scared to take it off.
But as scared as I was, I knew deep down it was time.
Time to take it off and allow myself to admit, “I’m not fine.”
In doing so, I felt a ton of emotions.
And I actually allowed myself to feel.
I was overwhelmed by all the emotions that rose to the surface.
“Was taking off my mask a good idea?” I wondered.
Part of me wanted to put it back on and keep telling everyone, “I’m fine.”
But it was too late.
That would be going back to living in denial.
Back to a world where I bottled the pain and pretended that everything was perfect.
I couldn’t go back there.
With the mask off, I allowed myself to grieve.
To get angry.
To be sad.
To get angrier.
I was feeling a ton of not so fun emotions.
In order to manage it all, I started writing, and it has helped me heal.
Am I completely healed?
No, I don’t think I will ever fully heal.
It’s a journey, but at least I’m no longer wearing a mask.
The ironic thing is…
The strength that I thought the mask portrayed, was actually underneath the mask the whole time.
Strength doesn’t come from burying, it comes from addressing it.
While my journey continues, I now feel like a lighter, stronger, and happier version of my true self.
What mask do you wear and what you be without it?